Let's turn your Bible, by the way, to I Peter Chapter three. I Peter Chapter three, we’re in a sermon series right now where we’re looking through this book, this powerful letter, written by one of the pillars of church. Peter, when he wrote this letter, was an older man. He was not...I guess, he wasn’t the immature Peter that we see Jesus talking about in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. By this point, he was within a couple of years of dying for the cause of Christ. Paul had already died, so Peter knew that one of the great leaders of the church had already died and Peter, I think in his heart, knew that his time was coming to an end. So he sits down and writes I and II Peter which were kind of his life thoughts, kind of life message, and he wanted to write them all down and he wanted to encourage the local churches who would read these letters. And so we’re in the third Chapter today.
I want to talk to you about something that when I bring up this topic, in fact, there’s a couple of topics that when a pastor brings up in a church, there’s an immediate, I can feel it coming back from you, this immediate wind of suspicion. And for example, any time I talk about money, and I’m unashamed about talking about finances and talking about money here, but I can feel it from some of you, you know, that maybe you’ve had a bad experience in the past where maybe a pastor, a leader, or whatever talked about money with bad motives, and so I know that when I bring up certain topics, that you’re going to have to at some point trust the motives of my heart, that I’m not bringing it up to get something out of you, instead I’m bringing up these topics because I believe that we will not be fully formed, mature desciples unless we talk about these topics.
So, my goal on Sunday morning is not to “wow” you. My goal is not to stand up here and to create some kind of buzz or to “wow” you with some kind of awesome talk. My goal as the pastor of New Life Church is to build disciples. And so, if I were having a one-on-one conversation, or maybe I’m sitting down with you and your wife, or sitting down with your family or maybe just the two of us, if we were having coffee one day or we were having regular meetings where we were discipling one another. This is a topic that I’m going to talk about today that would be one of the first four or five topics that I would bring up in conversation.
And so this morning in a conversational way, I’m going to have a discussion with you about the church’s new four letter word. The church’s new four letter word because I believe the idea of submitting to authority has been demonized in our culture. In fact, in the American culture, we have a natural resistance to submitting to authority. In fact, we have a declaration of independence which I love, I’m grateful, thankful, thankful, thankful, to live in a country where we are free. However, the kingdom of heaven is not a place of independence. Independence is awesome for a geopolitical nation state and I believe America’s democracy, the republic democracy in which we live, is a great model for the rest of the world to follow. I’m still very much in love with my country but, however, the kingdom of heaven is not built around a democratic idea. It’s not built on the platform of a democracy. The kingdom of heaven is built on the idea of community, freedom from bondage, living in community with one another. All of us submitting ourselves out of reverence to one another, submitting ourselves, living humble lives in community with one another; that’s the kingdom of heaven. Well, in order for that to happen, there has to be clear boundaries and clear systems of authority. It has to be recognized, it has to be something you’re willing to submit to. But the problem is, is that many of us have submitted to authority in our life only to be abused. In fact, the world’s view of authority, when I say submitting to authority, when I said that in the room this morning, here was probably the four things that popped into your mind. The first thing was abuse. In other words, I am not going to be ever be abused again. If you’ve ever been hurt and I have been hurt, I’ve shared openly about my story as a young man. I have burn hurt, wounded by those that I’ve entrusted myself to. I have submitted myself to authority only to be abused. I know the pain of that, the hurt of that, and so as a young man, when I went through that season in my life, I made the same inner vow that maybe many of you have made. I’m never going to do that again. I’m going to protect myself from the pain of submitting maybe to a leader who was immature or just plain hurtful. So, I’m never going to do that again. Well here, the problem with that is, is when you make those inner vows, you’re separating yourself from something that’s pretty important to God, so you hear and think of abuse.